Chapter 465: Fortification

As he had no missions of his own to complete presently, Vahn set to work helping the Loki Familia set up the defensive line starting the following morning. They had talked at length about the dangers presented by their enemies but it was ultimately decided that it should be okay as long as people traveled in their designated groups of four. It would simply be too time-consuming to travel in larger groups just to stay safe, as that would actually make it more dangerous since the natural spawn rate of monsters would increase.

Thus, while Vahn was helping set up the temporary fortifications, Tiona, Tione, Ais, and Lefiya had formed into a group as they made their way into the 51st floor. Vahn had given them the rallying whistle, which would be able to reach the members of the Loki Familia, while also giving Lefiya a [Hero’s Reprieve] since she was the person in the most danger. She flustered about for a while but eventually accepted it under the sparkling eyes and pressure of the other three girls…

The Loki Familia traditionally set up temporary wooden posts around the camp that angled outward like spears. Since they were already on an elevated plateau, it was simply intended to keep any stray monsters from roaming in while the entrances and exits were constantly guarded. Vahn accented this by taking the large stones he had stored away in his inventory and shaping them into large bricks that provide a more permanant solution than simple wooden posts. One of the things he had discovered about the stones in the Dungeon was that they were made of a single material which actually made them much easier to shape. By controlling the elemental energies inside the bedrock, Vahn could image out shapes and then separate them from the larger stone with a bit of effort. (A/N: Think earth bending (UwU))

There were a number of capable artisans within the expedition party itself, so Vahn had a lot of input from others and they quickly began building an actual stone fence around the perimeter that included observation towers and staircases. People in the Danmachi record were all much stronger than normal humans so the workload, while seemingly large, was actually easily managed by the seasoned Adventurers. As for how they could acquire the materials to build large-scale construction projects, Vahn could have purchased them through the shop but instead decided to do what Finn advised against and quarried it from the Dungeon itself.

Vahn believed that Finn’s concerns were valid, but didn’t think that they actually applied to the safety zones on the 18th, 39th, and 50th floors. There had never been a recorded incident of a Juggernaut appearing in the safety areas in the past and Rivira has had several hundred people living in it for decades. Vahn himself had destroyed large sections of the 18th floor in the past and there were never any signs of it triggering the Dungeon’s defense systems. Though they were out of range, unless Vahn planned to scale the walls, he assumed the crystals on the ceiling actually served to ward away most monsters while the Dungeon itself, for reasons unknown, ‘protected’ the sanctity of the safety zones.

However, to ease Finn’s concerns, Vahn explained that he was only using stones that didn’t have the mana of the Dungeon running through them. Just like the large boulders he had ‘acquired’ from the 49th floor, Vahn simply made use of the rocky outcrops that were interspaced throughout the forests below. Finn had reluctantly agreed to Vahn’s conjecture but also had the expedition remain on alert for nearly the entirety of the first day when they were building the structures. Vahn had constantly been sweeping over them with his [Eyes of Truth] but, in order to ensure the Dungeon wouldn’t ‘reclaim’ them in the future, he set down a foundation of materials that had been acquired through the system shop.

They hadn’t managed to finish everything in one day, but the expedition had completed the framework for an octogonal shaped outer wall that had observation towers at each corner. When asked why Vahn had decided on an octagon, he explained that there was power in specific shapes and that an eight-sided structure would be able to support a powerful defensive formation in the future. With Riveria backing up his claims, as she was also quite proficient in the creation of formations, the expedition worked in shifts to ensure that the work was proceeding quickly. As a show of gratitude, Vahn had gotten permission from Finn to add some of his own dishes to the meals and allowed many people to experience their first taste of fried chicken with a rich malt liquor as an accompaniment.

Vahn was of the mindset that people were far more proactive when their morale was high so he didn’t see the purpose of maintaining a gloomy and cautious mentality just because it was ‘expected’. As long as the people on guard duty took their jobs seriously, it wasn’t necessary for everyone to always be high strung. Though there was the danger of people breaking down after adapting to relative complacency, it wasn’t something that needed to be worried about over a short period of time at all.

During the evening, the four-girl group of Tiona, Ais, Lefiya, and Tione had returned safely while the vast majority of other groups did the same. There were still some people missing, but it wasn’t uncommon for planned trips to take more time than anticipated as a result of the labyrinthine nature of the Dungeon and its propensity to alter its shape at times. Most of the groups had been made up of a series of Level 4 Adventurers so there was a fair chance they were simply late, assuming they didn’t have the misfortune of encountering a monster party and getting caught off guard by something like a Deformis Spider. Vahn knew that Tsubaki’s former lover, Jonas, had died after getting caught off guard by one of the creatures and he had been a highly capable Adventurer in his own right.

Tiona and Tione seemed especially fond of the fried chicken that had been added to the evening meal and, like many others, ate far more than the usual amount of food they would typically eat. Though it might have been unhealthy in some regards, Vahn knew that the food created through the system shop was very nutritious regardless of the contents contained within. Their bodies might not be able to absorb the source energy contained within, but it would still nourish their cells as it was naturally filtered out of their body later on. Only Vahn could enjoy the full effects of the food he purchased from the system, but it was still capable of sustaining others with ease. Eva had likened it to being food ‘filled to the brim with mana’, so Vahn was confident it was good for them…

For a total of three days, four including the present day, Vahn continued pushing forward the construction of the expeditionary parties temporary ‘base’. They even got to the point where they installed communal baths for both men and women by hollowing out a large section of the plateau. Since Vahn didn’t want anything to be a blind spot, he even designed the bottoms of the bath to have lines to enhance the formation later on before filling them with water. Setting up the formations to heat up the water wasn’t viable in a ‘temporary’ base like this, but the entire camp was within Vahn’s domain and he could warm it through infusing fire elemental energy into the water itself. As for ensuring the water was cleaned properly, Vahn drilled a drainage system through the plateau itself and they would have to unplug it each day before Vahn, or anyone with a magic item that could produce water, would have to refill it.

After ensuring the basic amenities were taken care of, including latrines located on opposite sides of the encampment, Vahn worked with Rivera as they performed the painstaking ritual of setting up a defensive formation to protect the entire structure. To make their jobs easier, all of the tents were temporarily relocated, with Vahn’s assistance, before they took powdered magic stoned and drew out a large formation across the entire grounds. Because the structure of the base itself had been designed with formations in mind, Vahn ended up taking care of the more complex patterns on his own while Riveria dealt with the larger formation in the center. To serve as the core, they used some of the larger magic cores that had been obtained from defeating the Udaeus and Balor during the previous battles.

While Riveria and Vahn were setting up the formations, Finn had the rest of the expedition clear out large sections of the forest so that they would have even greater visibility from the plateau above. With nearly three hundred people working in concert, with the vast majority being Level 3 and higher, the task of clearing the forest was actually much faster than the tedium of setting up the formation. Even Haruhime could easily cut through trees with her sword while Lili could uproot entire trees with a bit of effort. They then arranged all the cut trees in a somewhat awkward circular shape that would act as a make-shift wall to slow the momentum of any monsters. Smart creatures could simply jump over the inconvenient structure, but it was still better than nothing as they currently had no other uses for the lumber.

After a surprisingly arduous four hours, Vahn finally finished carving the important runes before linking them all together and activating the formation. Though it couldn’t be seen by normal people, Vahn saw a dome take shape starting from the outside of the walls before coming to a point at the center of the encampment. As for Riveria’s formation, it reinforced the ground and was what would allow intruders to be detected by those that contained one of the formation keys. It also had the purpose, when combined with Vahn’s barrier, of regulating the internal temperature of the camp and ensuring the air quality. The air of the Dungeon was typically somewhat stagnant compared to the surface so it was quite literally a breath of fresh air for those that re-entered the encampment.

Finn, Riveria, Gareth, and Vahn were selected as key holders and registered everyone in the expedition so they would be allowed access into the small fortress they had constructed. The barrier wouldn’t actually be able to stop a wave of monsters, or almost any of the strong Adventurers present, but it would at least slow them down. If a foreign entity entered the space contained within the barrier, it would almost be like they were moving through a thick liquid and it would give those fighting inside a huge advantage against them. This was one of the reasons Vahn had been able to easily overwhelm Tammuz, the Vice Captain of the Ishtar Familia, in the past. The moment he broke into the territory of the Hestia Familia, his speed and reaction times had been marginally reduced while Vahn suffered no such restrictions.

The reaction of the expeditionary party to the completion of the fortress was one of uncontained jubilation as it was always better to live within the relative safety of walls than it was to sleep in the rough. Many even jokingly talked about building cabins out of the wood that had been cut down earlier since they would have nearly three weeks of time to simply idle about as they maintained the defensive line protecting the supplies. Of the 308 personnel making up the expedition, with the exclusion of the main and secondary parties of the Loki Familia, only thirty could safely venture into the deeper floors for missions. This meant that, other than some Supporters that took the risk to accompany Adventurers, there were 280 people simply protecting the base with nothing but free time. Having small recreational facilities like a bath made this place feel a lot more like a ‘home’ than normal and it stirred up a stronger desire to protect the little place they had created for themselves in the heart of the Dungeon.

Finn had noticed this sentiment within the group and it suddenly started to seem like Vahn’s idea about creating an actual settlement within the Dungeon wasn’t as unfounded as he believed. Just like Rivira, there would always be people that sought the ‘peace’ provided deep within the Dungeon simply because they preferred it over the relative hustle and bustle of the surface world. In the Dungeon, you didn’t have to worry about things like politics and the only thing that typically mattered was your own strength, and the strength of those you associate with. Though it certainly wouldn’t be a ‘normal’ place, it was easy to see how powerful Adventurers might be drawn to the 50th floor just because it was ‘interesting’…

As for Vahn, he had noticed the ‘shift’ in the atmosphere once the base had been completed as well. One of the plans he had come up with to make ‘Haven’ flourish in the future was actually creating the core branch of their organization within the 50th floor while also establishing an ‘advanced’ branch of the Academy they would create on the surface. It was obviously impractical to teach people complex studies in a short period of time so there would always be a need for a higher tiered education system. If people wanted to continue their studies and obtain the more advanced knowledge that would be provided, they would have to ‘graduate’ by reaching the 50th floor with a party of their own making. The option would only be given to those that had registered for the test, however, so there wouldn’t be a large influx of people simply arriving at the 50th floor through things like expeditions in the hope of joining the ‘Haven Academy’. There would be exceptions made, of course, but that would be at the discretion of whoever ended up as the Headmaster at the time…

Blissfully unaware of what her Master was thinking, Fenrir was lazing about in the large basin that was set up in the Hestia Familia’s tent. Though she originally didn’t like baths, primarily as a result of Eva, she had grown to love them as time passed. Being surrounded by the hot water was very pleasant and this water was especially nice because it was filled with her Master’s ‘essence’. Vahn still made use of the special water they had obtained from the artificial Dungeon and, to keep it warm, he infused his energy into the adaptive molecules that made up its structure. This ensured that the water was almost always warm and, though most people wouldn’t be able to sense it, Fenrir was able to feel her Master’s presence wrapping up her entire body as a result. She hadn’t had much to do lately, since her Master had been busy working, so Fenrir spent most of her time lazing about in the large basin blowing bubbles in the water…

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